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Congo’s Mbandaka residents worried about Ebola outbreak after third case confirmed

The government said the safety measures that involve testing travellers’ body temperature were put in place on May 10.

Mbandaka, a city of 1.5 million people, is near the Congo River and north of Bikoro, the small town where most of the 45 confirmed, probable or suspected Ebola cases have occurred since April 4.

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) head of emergency preparedness and response Peter Salama said the contact tracing rate was “extremely high” in the city of Mbandaka and “very high” in Bikoro.

More challenging were the small peripheral villages, reachable only by motorcycle, where the first cases went initially unrecorded last month.

A vaccine is due to be deployed to Mbandaka and Bikoro in the coming days to try to halt the outbreak and isolation units have been set up by MSF (Doctors Without Borders).

The WHO’s Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said emergency response teams planned to start vaccinating frontline health workers in Congo by Sunday (May 20), but Salama said the date had not been fixed.

Residents said they were worried about Ebola and were constantly washing their hands and avoiding physical contact.

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